Wasteland.APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Everyone is made to read T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land eventually. Sad English teachers try to get their students to derive meaning from this painfully long poem. Most get lost in Eliot's obscure allusions and bizarre German asides. Although I have a degree in English, I have never pretended to understand our great works of literature any more than your average man.
However, it seems pretty obvious what Eliot's going for in this long tirade just from reading the title.
I'm feeling a little Wasteland-ish today and not just because I'm a wee bit hungover. April is cruel and I feel it a bit more today than usual. Sometimes, you wake up and realize that you should have just stayed asleep. There doesn't have to be any discernible reason for your melancholy. It just is. It's in the soil. It's in the way your mind skips from word to word and never really connects to the sentence. The sun may be glaring down on your shoulders, but you could still be feeling like it's raining. This feeling is not necessarily cause for panic. It's part of being alive, feeling an unnameable sorrow.
My blogging compadre, g8s, recently started developing old rolls of film that he had been holding onto. He has posted these photos periodically on his blog. Images from college, his travels in Europe, our old home in Coney Island. As times puts distance between us and the past, it becomes more dificult to capture the essence of a memory. We look to devices like old pictures to jar our senses. Photographs have a wonderful quality of transformation -- transforming forgetting into remembering.
g8s has also been putting up old photos from his collection as an ongoing series called; "What You'll Miss With Your Digital Camera." In this age of digitized images and instant gratification, it becomes less necessary to try to really capture a moment. Now, we can take a thousand pictures instantly and choose whether or not to store them away as keepsakes. I'm not saying I have not enjoyed the convenience of digital photography. The rapid accelaration of technology always causes us to consider what we leave behind in gaining such amenities. The marked difference between old photographs and new has certainly put my mind to thinking.
As I stare out my window today, feeling the weight of another spring being lifted out of the ground and into the atmosphere, I can't help but wonder if I will remember this feeeling. If I will remember the cool air on my legs from the window I have cracked open, allowing the extended rays of sunset to bow out gracefully through my bedroom. Will I remember this melancholy and yearn to have the luxury of such a graceless emotion when I am old and consumed by the weight of a rapidly shortening tomorrow? Or will I simply store it away with the millions of other deleted moments and erased images of my life?